Republican Missouri Governor Eric Greitens promised to undo a St. Louis anti-discrimination ordinance while visiting an anti-abortion center in St. Louis Thursday. The ordinance protects women who are pregnant or who have had an abortion, among other things, from employment or housing discrimination.
The governor is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City next week for a special session to repeal the ordinance.
The governor said the ordinance threatens anti-abortion centers like the Christian-affiliated agency Our Lady's Inn. He appeared at the St. Louis center Thursday.
“Our objective with the special session is to protect the pregnancy care centers," he said. "It is to protect the pregnancy care centers so that they can do this really important work so that they are not driven into court by radical politicians.”
The ordinance states women who are pregnant, have had an abortion or have undergone in vitro fertilization are prohibited from employment and housing discrimination. But Greitens said the ordinance attacks the center's work
“What is really clear is, if you just look at the facts, they have driven Our Lady's Inn into court," he said. "Our Lady's Inn had to go to court to defend themselves.”
But the federal court docket shows the City of St. Louis defending itself against a lawsuit filed by Our Lady’s Inn, the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and several other organizations.
“My feeling is that Our Lady's Inn is exempt under the religious exemptions in the bill. There's no reason to be calling a special session,” said Democratic Alderwoman Megan Elliya Green of St. Louis' Ward 15. She sponsored the ordinance.
Green says the ordinance’s language was specifically incorporated to exclude entirely religious affiliated anti-abortion organizations like Our Lady's Inn.
“This is a waste of taxpayer money to fix an issue that is nonexistent with in this bill,” she said.
Greitens said Our Lady's Inn is not excluded and does good work that will be harmed if the ordinance stands.
Greitens confirmed the last special session he called cost taxpayers $60,000 and contends the defense of anti-abortion centers makes the cost worthwhile.
The special session starts Monday.